Merger of­fers more flex­i­ble ed­u­ca­tion to col­lege stu­dents

‘I would like to thank se­nior lead­ers, and all of the col­leges’ staff for their hard work to make this a re­al­ity’

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Letters And Opinion -

East Kent Col­lege has com­pleted its long dis­cussed merger with Can­ter­bury Col­lege – just 18 months af­ter rid­ing to its res­cue.

East Kent Col­lege, in Broad­stairs, was called in to dig the New Dover Road cam­pus out of a fi­nan­cial quag­mire af­ter it built up loans it could no longer ser­vice.

It was left fur­ther fi­nan­cially crip­pled af­ter de­cid­ing to use cash re­serves to pay for a new £9 mil­lion sports cen­tre, busi­ness hub and art stu­dios on the site.

Hav­ing al­ready taken over the South Kent Col­lege sites in Folke­stone and Dover, prin­ci­pal of the ex­pand­ing East Kent Col­lege, Gra­ham Razey, was parachuted in to turns the Can­ter­bury cam­pus’s for­tunes around.

Faced with hav­ing to save mil­lions of pounds to pre­vent com­plete col­lapse, a ma­jor re­struc­tur­ing was rolled out which stopped the rot and trans­formed its for­tunes.

In a re­port pub­lished last year by the gov­ern­ment’s fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion com­mis­sion, which was damn­ing of Can­ter­bury Col­lege’s pre­vi­ous lead­er­ship team, it was noted that un­der Mr Razey the at­mos­phere had been trans­formed into one of “open­ness and trans­parency”.

Hav­ing pre­vi­ously been rated as ‘re­quires im­prove­ment’ by in­spec­tors Of­sted, a visit last year el­e­vated it to ‘good’.

Talks be­gan a lit­tle over a year ago to for­malise the re­la­tion­ship and bring Can­ter­bury Col­lege un­der East Kent Col­lege’s wing. That was fi­nally agreed last Thurs­day, Fe­bru­ary 1.

The move cre­ates the sev­enth big­gest fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion col­lege group in the UK, cater­ing for 15,000 stu­dents and em­ploy­ing more than 15,000 staff.

Al­though the col­leges will keep their sep­a­rate iden­ti­ties, they now form the EKC Group and bring to­gether a fam­ily of five cam­puses across east Kent pro­vid­ing fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion in Can­ter­bury, Dover, Shep­way, Swale and Thanet.

Group prin­ci­pal and chief ex­ec­u­tive Gra­ham Razey said: “It’s great news for the many stu­dents we teach who now have un­par­al­leled flex­i­bil­ity to progress through our range of pro­vi­sion, as well as the com­mu­ni­ties we serve, which I hope will ben­e­fit from the skills train­ing and ser­vices we de­liver.”

The group’s new chair, for­mer CEO of Manston Air­port Charles Buchanan, said: “I would like to thank se­nior lead­ers, and all of the col­leges’ staff for their hard work to make this a re­al­ity.

“There’s no doubt it has not been easy, but it il­lus­trates the for­ti­tude and char­ac­ter of those work­ing through our col­leges that we have now be­come the EKC Group, and it makes me in­cred­i­bly ex­cited for the fu­ture of tech­ni­cal ed­u­ca­tion in the south east.”

The group has also launched its new strate­gic plan which sets out its ob­jec­tives for the fu­ture, as well as a new group logo.

Can­ter­bury Col­lege has now for­mally merged with the Broad­stairs-based East Kent Col­lege

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